Foods that Reduce Excessive Mucus


Our bodies produce mucus to keep us healthy, but too much mucus can cause health problems that range from annoying sniffles to making it hard to breathe. Excessive mucus is usually caused by allergies and illness, but certain foods can also cause annoying and unhealthy excessive mucus. And there are certain foods that can reduce excessive mucus.

What is Mucus?

Mucus or phlegm is produced by different mucus cells in our body and organs that include the nose, intestines and other places in our body. It is a thick fluid that coats organ membranes to protect the organs from invading pollutants. Mucus is a defense mechanism that can protect us by trapping and filtering viruses, bacteria and pollutants like cigarette smoke, pollen and dander from entering our body.

Too much mucus though can cause health problems from stuffy noses, runny noses to breathing difficulty. If someone is allergic to pollen, smoke or pet dander, mucus can become excessive. If there is too much mucus in the lungs and you start to cough, that is the body’s way of getting rid of the pollutants and other invaders that have caused the excessive mucus. Coughing is important when you are sick. When you have a cold or the flu, coughing is the body’s way of getting rid of the virus or irritant that has caused the excessive mucus.

Excessive mucus can also cause recurring sinusitis and postal nasal drip. A cold or flu can cause the chest to become very tight with a tight non-productive cough. It is best not to suppress the cough but you should loosen the mucus and get rid of it. 

Foods that Cause Excessive Mucus

Certain beverages and foods can cause excessive mucus in certain people because they have an allergic reaction to the particular food. Too much mucus can worsen certain medical conditions like asthma, colds, the flu, emphysema, COPD and cystic fibrosis. The foods that can cause excessive mucus include:
  • Dairy products can cause excessive mucus causing mucus to be thicker than normal. Dairy foods include milk, yogurt, cheese and the foods that have dairy products in them.
  • High-fat red meat and processed meats can also cause excessive mucus to become a problem. This can happen with anyone, but is more of a problem with those who have COPD.
  • Gluten found in wheat products, rye and barley can also cause excessive mucus. This is especially true for those who have an allergy or intolerance to gluten or if you have cystic fibrosis [1].
  • Alcohol can cause excessive mucus and the associated sinus problems in some people.
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine and especially soda pop that contains both sugar and caffeine.
  • Fruits and vegetables like bananas, cabbage and potatoes possibly cause excessive mucus, especially bananas.
Foods that Reduce Excessive Mucus

You can eliminate the foods that are known to cause excess mucus and you can also eat foods that eliminate excessive mucus like:
  • Certain vegetables and fruits such as garlic, pickles, celery, onions, parsley, winter squash, berries, oranges, greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and peppers.
  • Chicken soup can also relieve the problem of excessive mucus.
  • Fatty fish including tuna, salmon, sardines, lake trout, herring and flounder.
  • Olive oil.
Natural Remedies to Loosen a Tight Chest and Reduce Mucus

I recently had the flu that tightened my chest to the point I could hardly breathe and couldn’t stop coughing due to excessive mucus. I came across a couple of natural remedies that loosened the mucus and helped my breathing.
  • Put a teaspoon of the real horseradish (white or red) in a bowl and mix in a little lemon juice. This horseradish can be very hot and will loosen the tight chest and cause the excessive mucus to be expelled more easily. Actual horseradish is not the type from a squeeze bottle.
  • Hot water with lemon juice can also relieve a tight chest and loosen the mucus.

As you can see there are certain beverages and foods that can cause excessive mucus and foods also relieve excessive mucus. If you do get sick with the flu, cold, sinusitis or allergies, you should minimize the foods that cause mucus and eat more of the foods that relieve it.

Copyright © Sam Montana May 2012


[1] University of Maryland Medical Center

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